The introduction does not need to be lengthy; a short sharp introduction can be a most effective start to a
research paper. The purpose of the introduction is to show the reader what you understand to be the issues
raised by the question you are addressing and how you propose to tackle them. It is also the place to define
any key terms, and to delimit the scope of your enquiry. It may, however, be appropriate to spell out the
implications of your question in a little more detail in order that you can pursue your argument within a well-ordered framework.
The introduction is not the place to develop your argument. Whether it is the place to give notice of your conclusion is much more contentious. Some people argue that the introduction is no place to state your conclusion. Others say that this can be extremely powerful and make the reader sit up and take notice. Even if this technique is used, you should note that the introduction is not the place to spell out the reasons for your
The body of the paper contains the development of the argument and all the essential information to sustain
The body of the paper will be divided into a number of sections. Think about what these sections should be and begin each section with an indication of its purpose. The skilful use of headings can provide very helpful signposts to the reader here. Be consistent in the use of headings. Use examples to illustrate the points you are making and include your own comment to explain the significance of those points.
Quotations can be useful, but a paper which is merely a collection of quotations will not score highly. The key is to be selective in the use of quoted material and to weave it carefully into the fabric of your argument. You should take care not to jump around among the issues raised by the question your paper is addressing. If you find that you are doing this, take another look at the plan and see whether there is an adjustment to it that can be made to avoid this.
One of the most important things to remember is that all statements must be supported by evidence or
authority. This is an absolute must in legal writing.
Finally, you should check that the content of the main sections of your paper reflects what you have indicated you would cover in the introduction. If it does not, one or the other (or possibly both) need to be revised.
The conclusion draws together the threads of your argument. It does not repeat those arguments. Nor does it repeat the introduction. The conclusion should focus on the question you have set out to address and state how you have answered that question. There should be no new arguments in the conclusion.
Your paper will be broken into sections. You should plan a system of headings. For papers up to 5,000 words,
you will almost certainly not need more than two levels of headings. Be consistent in the use of headings and
use them to guide to reader: headings are signposts which can indicate to the reader how the argument is
For papers up to 15,000 words, you may need three levels of heading, but think hard whether you really need
more than two levels of heading. The more levels of heading you have, the easier it becomes to get confused.
Using Word templates effectively keeps track of the level of your headings. It is also helpful to set up an outline of your paper using just the headings. Most word processors do this automatically from your headings if they are identified as a style.